Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Clayton Christensen has died (deseret.com)
608 points by coloneltcb 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments

I was fortunate enough to be able to take a variation on Professor Christensen's HBS course through a summer program of study offered by Duke University; his son, Matthew, was himself an alumnus of both Duke and HBS and was our instructor for the course.

We were lucky enough to have Professor Christensen himself fly in for a few days for guest lectures. From the minute he walked into the door, his intellectual brilliance was obvious, but our class very quickly discovered what a kind person he was.

(This was right in the thick of the iOS-versus-Android wars and I recall having quite the spirited lecture about the nature of the market and which platform would eventually win out!)

I'll remember Professor Christensen as a brilliant thinker and, most of all, a good man.

I absolutely share your sentiment about him, I had absolutely no idea who he was at the time but very quickly as you say, you get who he is, he lays it out and that trait in people is something I will forever admire.

It's only hitting me now how much he actually knocked me in my path.

More than anything, I admire him for the way in exemplified a balanced life. He was obviously hugely influential in the realm of business, but his career was clearly only ever a single part of his life, rather than the entirety of his life. He was wise without being arrogant. He was spiritual and contemplative without being preachy. He seems very much like the kind of person I aspire to be.

So without stereotyping too harshly, I wonder if his humility came from his faith? I've met quite a few LDS who show significant tolerance for beliefs that conflict with their own, maybe because historically Mormons have been the victims of intolerance?

Exmormon here who has spent significant time with relatively larger names in that org. No, Clay was pretty unique in my view. With due respect to him, the tolerance of conflicting belief often portrayed by his co-adherents is typically extended as a proselytizing or marketing tactic and isn't offered to former Mormon congregants terribly often (see reddit.com/r/exmormon for thousands of documented experiences, or the treatment of John Dehlin, Juanita Brooks, or Sam Young).

I would say that r/exmormon may not be the best indication of the faith as the whole, as it is essentially the equivalent of a product review site where people with the the biggest axes to grind congregate and create bit of a bubble that is out of touch with reality, much like other subs that are essentially devoted to the dislike of or dissatisfaction with something like r/atheism, r/fuckepic, r/redpill, etc. That isn't to say there aren't valid individual experiences there. But they aren't reflective of the overall experience for most, even though they get painted that way.

A large portion of my Mormon friends fall on the spectrum of belief that would range from "less devout" to "completely lapsed", and none of them have had issues with the church as an organization or with individuals. But as such they don't really care or look for communities of disaffected ex-mormons for support, so their perspectives aren't heard.

I shared your feelings before leaving Mormonism (I was heavily involved in setting up the billboard community found in r/latterdaysaints and community engagement via r/mormon several years ago). Over 100k former Mormons are there. You get the full spectrum. It offers a community to people who are kicked out of where their weekly community is no longer available (really, read their experiences sometime). A lot of people get mistreated, at a minimum, or downright abused.

As an atheist who lives in Utah, I wish r/exmormon would calm down a bit. The echo chamber groupthink there is staggering.

As an exmo, I think that sub is toxic and unhealthy and a terrible way to find balanced views. Very off topic from the article but I like to put that plug in wherever I can.

I totally get it. It's bizarre to me the way debates about any significant LDS figure or historical moment quickly becomes flooded with anti-LDS sentiment from various sources, especially r/exmo types.

And then I'm just in the corner as an atheist who has an anthropological fascination with LDS history and culture.

r/mormon seems like a neutral sub. You can find believers and non-believers conversing there. All respectful posts seem to be allowed, even if critical of the church or it's beliefs.

Yes. Despite the name, it seems like the majority of posters are ex-Mormon, but not angry about it.

Speaking as a fellow ex-Mormon, I agree with your statements here.

jjeaff 30 days ago [flagged]

Marketing tactic or not, if that is the behavior, that's the behavior, it's unfair to ascribe intentions and discount the behavior.

There are definitely some LDS that fall into the trap of taking offense when someone leaves the religion and then don't treat that person well. They take it as a personal slight that someone else is claiming their religion is wrong. Either by actions or in words.

But I have also noticed that many ex-mormons are like vegans. They want to tell everyone about it and preach to everyone else that is still "eating meat". There are also quite a few that are extra sensitive and seem to try to make themselves feel better by bashing their ex-religion and those that are still adherents.

Look up Heartsell[0][1] sometime. Bonneville Communications is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mormon church. They attempted to sell inclusion and heartfelt feelings as a marketing strategy.

They got caught the first time and it was minorly bad PR. They haven't been caught since.

Note this is what the central organization does, of which most of the congregants are naive or deliberately uninformed. When I taught missionaries how to be Mormon missionaries several decades ago, "BRT" was part of the sales principles--build a relationship of trust. Why? To get people to buy what you're selling. This is also taught to congregants not actively serving missions, though not as deeply. Consider the calls of "Every member a missionary" (McKay, 1960s), "Lengthen your stride" (Kimball, 1980s), "Hasten the work" (Bednar, 2010s) where membership is exhorted to use sales practices on their neighbors.

It's not ascribing bad motives or pretending to know what motivated people, it's having grown up in it and now seeing it outside the organization, objectively and after years of therapy and deprogramming.

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/20150219201604/http://www.bonnev...

[1] http://johnlarsen.org/podcast/Archive/MormonExpression250.mp...

BRT may have been your (and many others) approach to 'taught missionaries how to be Mormon missionaries), but it's not the only approach. ;)

I was taught about building a relationship because it is more than just an attempt to 'convert' someone—what things in life do you _not_ build a relationship of trust with others? You need to have empathy, understand them, to be able to help (if so desired), etc. I met with people who in the end, after understanding them and their situation, we simply helped out in other ways (more material) ones.

We weren't trying to sell things or increase numbers, but genuinely trying to help others. I had people who say they didn't care about the church, but because they trusted us, we helped them in other ways (finding work, overcoming alcohol addiction, etc).

Were there others who just wanted to convert/baptise a million people? Yup, but they're missing the point.

BRT seems like a pretty good principle. As long as it's not "BRT until you can stab" or "BRT until you have all their money" or whatever. You seem to be pointing an accusing finger at BRT. I'm guessing you may have had some experience with "BRT and they'll come around to your way of thinking." But I imagine that even those aren't usually malicious. Granted, they don't have to be malicious to be off-putting, but try to take it with good humor.

If you're willing to not suspect the worst, sometimes you can appreciate somebody like the person described in these posts and admire their goodness and the general goodness of everyone.

The goal is to get converts. It’s way more insidious when you’ve been on the inside and then got out.

Your goal was to get converts. Lots and lots of other people have different goals. Some people have the same goal as you.

I could BRT with my work team, not just so they will all switch to my favorite PL. I could BRT with my neighbor so they might feed my goldfish while I'm on vacation. And I could mow their lawn when they're in the hospital. Not just so they'll will me their house.

I can BRT a person with the specific intent to get them to check their weight gains because they look unhealthy. That would entail a lot of judging on my part, and a lot of people would take some exception to that. But as the relationship builds, they might understand that I've seen diabetes close up and I don't want that for them. They can frankly tell me that it's none of my business and they don't fear diabetes. I could switch and warn them about heart disease. Again, none of my business and they don't care. If I keep nagging, I could destroy the relationship. That's the opposite of BRT. Let's call it BFRT, building fake relationships of trust.

Some people BFRT. Some people BGRT (build genuine relationships of trust). I'd like to believe that most Tesla fans don't BFRT with their Chevy-loving friends just so Elon can get richer. I'd like to believe that most Rust advocates don't BFRT with their C++ co-workers just to inspire a PL coup. I'd like to believe that my neighbor isn't being nice to my goldfish just to convert me to Catholicism.

Of course my Tesla friend would love me to buy a Tesla. Of course my Rust friend would like me to at least dabble. I don't see why members of a particular religion would be any different.

Now imagine that you were bad-mouthing your high school around fellow graduates. What if some of them offered to buy you a beer just to shut you up and maybe get you to lighten up. Are they BFRT? Maybe. But take the beer and say thanks. Depending on how ex-Mormon you are, that would be root beer, of course.

I understand the point you're trying to make, and feel you are missing something fundamentally important. Note that the KPIs currently tracked (and consistent with history) are[0]:

- People baptized and confirmed

- People with a baptismal date

- People who attend sacrament meeting

- New people being taught

Some missions track hours of community service, but typically to ensure they are kept under a cap, not maximized.

These are sales funnel goals given to missionaries. This unfortunately discredits your point that lots and lots of other people have different goals -- organizations track those things they care about. And the Mormon church wants to continue growing membership, as that was seen as successful during the formative years of her oligarchy.

As an employee (I suppose technically a volunteer employee) you can have any motivation for showing up you like. But that doesn't mean you have any say whatsoever in what your managers and leadership want to accomplish. And the goals your holding to a pedestal are certainly noble, but not aligned with what each of these young volunteer salespeople are being encouraged to accomplish.

I believe you have conflated BRT with normal friendship and friendliness, which is not what BRT was used for. BRT (no longer specifically called that) was step one in a commitment pattern to grow membership in the Mormon church. There is a big difference in the two, which is where I contend you're conflating -- friendliness isn't something used to sell people a lifestyle group, but BRT is.

[0] https://www.ldsdaily.com/church-lds/major-changes-to-preach-...

Perhaps you have missed a point or two. Of course it is the objective of fulltime proselyting missionaries to increase converts.

But that is not the only purpose in having such a program filled with (let's be honest) kids. Do they learn self-discipline? How to manage their time? How to socialize with people? How to study their own religion? How to empathize with others? How to speak multiple languages? How to lead peer groups? What their religion actually believes and if and how it makes any sense? How to manage their money? How important their parents have been in their lives?

Are these things learned just for the next year or two? Or do these missionaries go back to regular life with amazing skills that they can use to be better employees, co-workers, parents, teachers, and citizens? Is BRT just to trap people into the religion? Or is it an important life practice?

If it's just a sales technique, too bad. As a life practice, it's incredibly enriching.

As I stated:

>> I believe you have conflated BRT with normal friendship and friendliness, which is not what BRT was used for.

I find your defense of the institutional practice to be deliberately obtuse because it focuses on the rose-colored glass elements while ignoring the negatives in an attempt to gloss over the commercialism, colonialism, and other troubling aspects of Mormon corporate policy. I'll not comment further on the matter. Thank you for engaging.

As a Mormon myself, I will be the first to say that there can and are plenty of Mormons who are not what I would consider tolerant. But on the whole, I think we are relatively tolerant in regards to other faiths and spiritual beliefs, in large part for the reason you state.

I grew up in an area of the country without many Mormons, and was perhaps one of a dozen Mormon kids in a high school of well over a thousand students. I wouldn't say I was ever bullied over my religion in the traditional sense, I found it to be a pretty consistent source of discomfort and a feeling of being an "other". Often it could be innocuous (and often very fruitful) classroom discussions about Mormonism after the subject would come in class and the teacher would discover I was Mormon, and therefore became the focus of the discussion. Other times it would come in the form of other students asking me if I wore funny underwear or if my dad had lots of wives, and usually wasn't hostile in nature but made me feel pretty ostracized or defensive. And unfortunately I would get someone assuring me their pastor said I was going to hell, or accusing me of being in a cult, or offended that I could possibly be a Mormon when Joseph Smith/Brigham Young/Some other church figure said/did X without realizing that being Mormon for many people is as much a part of their cultural makeup and heritage as it is their religious belief, nor did I, an individual Mormon, of high school age, completely understand my own personal views, let alone be able to answer for everything ever uttered in the realm of Mormonism (which still is the case, now that I'm older). I found I bonded quite a bit with the handful of Muslim, Jewish, and Atheist kids as they were also in the minority and felt on the outs at times in my school.

It probably also has to do with the 2 year missions many Mormons serve. It's a very unique and strange experience that opens your eyes to the world in a way that is hard to do otherwise. Because its missionary work people may assume the opposite, but for me, serving as a Mormon missionary in Japan made me realize how much I didn't know about people and the world, and the depth and breadth of human culture and individuality. It made me re-contextualize my beliefs and consider what I truly believed and what I had only been telling myself I believed. I think this is in part the reason why there are a decent number of Mormons who serve missions for two years and then eventually move away from the church. But for those who don't it provides an opportunity to learn about and get to know other spiritual and cultural perspectives that is hard to match.

As with every religion, the faithfulness of its adherents to the religion’s principles varies from person to person. But certainly the ideal that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches is exactly that: humility, compassion, and tolerance, combined with courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances.

At least for members of the church living in Utah, many (no not all!) have some pioneer heritage. We frequently remind ourselves that persecution is a terrible thing and that we must be tolerant and respectful of other’s beliefs.

I’ve found it to be fairly true/common with LDS people. A lot of the foundational beliefs and programs in the church around the family, and about having balance. Last year the Sabbath day service was shortened an hour from 3 to 2, with one of the purposes to reduce the time away from family.

As with many religions, "tolerance" is a sensitive issue: blacks, women, LGBT.

But yes, there is the stereotype of a humble/reserved successful Mormon businessman. (E.g. I'd put Mitt Romney in that category too)

The LDS Church put its "racist" past behind itself fairly easily because the "Mark of Cain" canard was trivial to dismiss as misinterpretation.

LGBT acceptance will be a much, much tougher slog for them, given the central and critical importance that eternal families play in its doctrine and view of spiritual progression.

It'll be tougher and probably take longer, but there's no real reason it can't happen. You'll notice there's nothing in the Book of Mormon about LGBTQ+ issues. Everything church leaders have said about it is quoting either the Bible or each other. I predict that eventually they'll quit talking about it (like they quit talking about birth control and working moms). There will be a period of live and let live, where gay couples can't get sealed in the temple but are welcome at church and nobody thinks any less of them, and trans kids transition and nobody pitches a fit. And eventually they'll announce a revelation that same-sex marriages are ordained of God, a bunch of fundamentalists will leave the church, and we'll be caught up with 2019 morals (in 2047 or whenever it is).

Indeed; I doubt LGBT will ever be "accepted" (that is, esteemed as virtuous) by the LDS Church. As you said, it runs directly contrary to core doctrines.

Not many religions in the U.S. have tolerance issues with "blacks" or "women", per se. The LDS church was unique in that regard. But to be fair, that aspect seems to have been sincerely discarded. What lingers is the uncomfortable landscape it finds itself in, and given the background racial landscape in the U.S., I'm sure it'll be an especially long journey out of that wilderness.

Almost every religion that has been around as long as the LDS Church has the same issues.

But if you're comparing it to churches that have been around only 10, 30, or 50 years, sure.


It used to be that the LDS Church was "too" pro-black by society's standards.

That was a large reason for Missouri's infamous Mormon "Extermination Order":

> We believed them deluded fanatics, or weak and designing knaves, and that they and their pretensions would soon pass away; but in this we were deceived...In a late number of the Star [the Mormon newspaper], published in Independence by the leaders of the sect, there is an article inviting free Negroes and mulattoes from other states to become "Mormons," and remove and settle among us. This exhibits them in still more odious colors...the introduction of such a caste among us would corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.


Yes somehow, very few discussions of Missouri immediately turn to its history of racism.

Not to mention Utah was the second state to grant women the right to vote.

That implies that Utah is (or was) a theological state, which is an accusation and stereotype the LDS Church has been fighting since before statehood.

Utah was definitely not a theocracy at the time suffrage was obtained.

It's actually a fascinating story. Mormons largely supported suffrage, but had to fight the federal government tooth and nail to get it.

In 1869, Utah was under territorial rule, and the federally-appointed government was determined to limit the influence of the LDS Church and end polygamy. The legislature even passed female suffrage during their efforts to rid polygamy from the state.

But it had exactly the opposite effect; most woman voted in favor of allowing polygamy. Thereafter, some national supporters of women's rights actually became opposed to women's suffrage in Utah because of it was being used to support polygamy. (Enfranchisement all fine and well until someone disagrees with you.)

In 1887, Congress redoubled its efforts to end polygamy, and revoked the ability of woman to vote that the legislature had granted earlier.

The LDS Church supported the creation of the Utah Women's Suffrage Organization, to try and restore the right to vote. A Utah Territory judge sided with the women's movement, but the Supreme Court rejected it, citing Congress' law.

Not until the Church renounced polygamy, Utah obtained statehood, and the women's right to vote was included in the state constitution, were Utahns able to undo the Congress' targeted repeal of suffrage.

Utah women then helped secure the Nineteenth Amendment[1].

[1] https://www.utahwomenshistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02... (The man in the picture was Senator Reed Smoot, who was also an Apostle in the LDS Church.)

Utah WAS a theological state, which is why the federal government refused their initial requests for statehood. Which also relates to the motivation for Utah to allow woman to vote. Within Mormonism (at the time), polygamy was allowed among approved church members. Allowing women to vote gave these approved church members essentially extra votes since some of these men had over 50 wives! Obedience to patriartical rule is a critical component of Mormonism, and this influence could be leveraged to make things happen in accordance to the church's wishes.

Wow. I had never read the manifesto before. That is incredibly interesting, and actually makes a lot more sense why the Missourians were incensed.

> From 1849 to 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) prohibited men of black African descent from being ordained to the priesthood. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_people_and_Mormon_priest...)

AFAIU, in the LDS Church all men are ordained priests. So whatever their stance regarding African-Americans in the social and political sphere, institutionally the church was very unique, even in the modern era. And that was the original point.

Contrast that with the Catholic Church at least formally having no trouble ordaining LGBT people[1], notwithstanding the male-female clerical role dichotomy[2], but does institutionally (and doctrinally) oppose many forms of practiced sexuality. (Notably, all clerics and monastics are celibate in Roman Catholicism, which they often used as a rhetorical shield.) This distinction matters because doctrinally Catholicism distinguishes behaviors from "what you are", and with the exception of male-female sex roles there has never been any classification system that treated people differently based on their inherent characteristics. This is true more generally in Christianity, although various denominations, especially in the South during the American slave period, flirted with such theological distinctions. Again, the LDS Church stood out from a theological perspective.

Churches are more than doctrine, of course. They're communities. And some communities deviate from the letter and spirit of their doctrine more than others. The more authoritarian (top-down) the church, the less likely such deviations occur, at least facially. Again the LDS Church stood out for a governance structured similarly to the Catholic Church, but with a racial system that resembled that taken up by niche, Protestant sects of the period.

Anyhow, things aren't the same today. And without trying to sound cynical, religions have wonderful ways of carefully papering over past sins and moving on. Ways that the secular world would do well to better appreciate and even, on occasion, mimic. This history of the LDS Church doesn't need to be denied or excused because the church has its own theological devices for setting things straight without prejudicing objective facts. The LDS Church seems a very beautiful religion with many devoted members who deserve respect and admiration.

[1] Indeed, likely for the entire period of the modern distinction of homosexuality the Catholic Church knowingly accepted gay men and women into religious orders. This has been used by conservatives, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who conflate homosexuality with sexual perversion, to argue such knowing ordinations as being causative of child molestation. And, FWIW, seemingly by some liberals whose arguments effectively seem to say that that a celibate priesthood inviting homosexuals had the effect of providing an enticing shelter to pedophiles, because of the supposed of dynamics of sexual repression. It's a weird argument and just goes to show that the line which we use to label and distinguish conservative and liberal seems to wrap around at the edges.

[2] Technically, many if not most Catholic clerics are careful to avoid arguing that women could never become priests or that being female is incompatible with the role of a priest. Certainly most Vatican leaders are careful to walk this line. Women are barred as a matter of church law, justified by tradition, but there's no fundamental theological basis for it except that as a general rule deviations from tradition (e.g. the Apostles all being male) require strong positive justification. A failure to deviate isn't an affirmation or disaffirmation of anything. It's an exceedingly tenuous position, especially in the modern era, but it's worth pointing out. And if you listen to Catholic officials make their arguments, especially in prepared statements, you can see these distinctions very clearly.

Huh? The Catholic Church is the #1 example of a church opposing modern sexual norms. (This is objectively true, regardless of whether you agree with those current norms or not.)

A. Celibate clergy.

B. Official policy of no homosexual priests (despite the fact they are celibate anyway) [1]

C. All-male clergy, and the excommunication of any violators [2]

D. Complete ban on contraceptives

E. Political and moral opposition to same-sex marriage

The Catholic Church's stances on sexuality go far past those of the LDS Church.

I will grant that the Catholic Church is more racially diverse; it's one of the consequences of its vast colonial legacy.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instruction_Concerning_the_Cri...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordination_of_women_and_the_Ca...

Objective truth? Who teaches that these days! :)

A: Celibacy as a nominal choice is part of the emerging asexual ‘sexual norm’ found mostly in Asia but spreading to the west.

B: This point is usually a confusion of terms. Men who are attracted to men but are celibate are currently priests in many parts of the world.

C: True

D: The Catholic Church has no power to ban anything.

E: Also a confusion of terms between secular and religious groups. It’s analogous to arguing about whether everyone can physically become pregnant, because the religious definition of what they call ‘holy matrimony’ involves more than just feelings.

1/5 objective truth points :)

That's laughable. How many black congregants do you think there were in white churches in the south in the 70s? There were no public curfuffles because it's simply not an issue if there are literally zero people of another race in your congregation.

How many are there today? Churches are one of the last places in american that are mostly segregated.

> As many as 87% of Christian churches in the United States are completely made up of only White or African-American parishioners.


The LDS church was not unique in that regard at all. They are just ~30 years behind the society around them.

For example, they had massive problems fully accepting blacks until the seventies, which was long after most mainstream religions got over their issues. But most mainstream religions (at least the protestand ones) had all kinds of trouble themselves in the forties.

The LDS church isn't unique in its problems, it's just decades behind.

I have no data, just a guess based on my understanding of cultural history, but I have to imagine that many churches in the US have been segregated at the local level and often de facto, rather than as a larger thing with formal institutional endorsement.

For example, we Americans stereotype Catholicism as reflecting some European immigrant communities like Irish, Italians, Polish... But it's always been ok for an African American to be a Catholic. Probably in prior eras especially some of those communities of white Europeans would not have been terribly welcoming to such a person to say the least. But you couldn't say the international organization with HQ in Rome was against them being members. Or maybe I am wrong.

I think it's probably more to the structure of the denominations themselves. Like Catholicism, central to Mormonism is the central authority of the church, including priesthood authority. Most Protestant denominations, predominant in the US, are not nearly as rigid in their beliefs regarding priesthood authority, centralized authority, or even a set dogma. If your local Baptist/Lutheran/Methodist church isn't tolerant of certain beliefs, or you don't feel comfortable there, it is relatively easier to just start up your own church. In Mormonism (and Catholicism), this doesn't happen, because the centralized authority of the church is a key piece of the doctrine. For Protestant denominations, they largely reject this central authority, so they tend to be more fluid on these topics. In regards to race, this wasn't an issue with the Catholic church, but with other topics (say, celibacy of priests), there aren't "we maintain the legitimacy of the Church in Rome but our priests aren't celibate" type denominations popping up much.

I suspect this is why, even though there was much by way of explicit prohibition of races in many churches throughout the US, most churches seemed to have ended up segregated anyways.

Off topic, but FYI: the link in your bio goes to a 404 page for Rivet Health, which links to a designer template site of some sort.


Thanks. I'll update that link.

From someone who lived in Utah for 20+ years and whose stepfamily are all Mormon, I wouldn't think of tolerance as one of the faith's defining characteristics.

Although the intolerance often manifests itself as the kind of fake niceness found in movies when an old lady character needs to belittle someone with a sweet smile or calmly shut them out of polite society, not the fire breathing intolerance that wants to wage holy war.

> From someone who lived in Utah for 20+ years

Members in Utah are different to members outside of Utah, haha.

yeah that's pretty well known too. proximity to the prophet I suppose.

I'd say its mostly just majority in-group dynamics that you'd find anywhere that a majority shared any characteristic. That combined with well intentioned missionary zeal will of course cause issues.

That said, the Salt Lake Valley is now under 50% LDS- the previous Mayor is Lesbian and its pretty progressive generally.

More like proximity to each other (and being a huge majority of the population).

See also: echo chambers, which are probably a societal plague more than anything.

It's interesting because I've always perceived Mormonism (at least the dogmatic kind) as being intolerant given its history of racism and sexism. I suppose a lot has changed over the years, although I've still never met a black mormon and I even lived in Boise for like 4 years

> I've still never met a black mormon and I even lived in Boise for like 4 years

Boisean myself, it’s not exactly like we have much diversity here to begin with - on any given day it feels I’m as likely to spot a non-Caucasian individual as I am a unicorn.

That said, I’ve known plenty of LDS members over my life, and just like any religious group you can see ones that are actually tolerant of other beliefs and ones that put on a mask and speak differently behind your back. Then there’s the ones that would speak poorly directly to your face.

Neither race nor sex are beliefs, so that wouldn't be in contradiction to the comment you're replying to.

I have no opinion on whether Mormons are racist, sexist, or tolerant of different beliefs. My limited experience with them suggests that they're easy-going and work hard, that's about all I've got.

> I've still never met a black mormon and I even lived in Boise for like 4 years

You live in Boise. So...

I know many black Mormons, but only in places with a significant black population.

FWIW, Utah had a black LDS Congresswomen for the past several years https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mia_Love

As a former Mormon, black mormons were so rare that they were treated like celebrities.

Where did you live?

The LDS Church is headquarted in Utah, and the whole state is literally 1% black.

I'm a Mormon and grew up in Florida, and the LDS Church had a typical blend for a "mostly white church." (Realize that virtually every church has a clear racial majority of some kind.)

In California. There were two black families, a total of five people, in our stake with over 1000 active members.

This is largely because up until 1976 the Mormon church didn't allow Black members into its temples or to receive the priesthood (which is an essential step within Mormonism).

Imagine joining and/or believing in a church that said "because you are black, you can't go to our glorious temples that we talk so much about. And you can't go to the highest form of heaven because you are black."

This is literally the way it was (not exaggerating whatsoever). Luckily the NCAAP started to attack the church since they were one of the most blatantly open racist institutions going into the 1980s. The leadership of the church realized they wouldn't win this fight and changed the rules.

I did not find Christensen to be especially humble. I recall thinking his response to Jill Lepore's story [1] to be ... not humble.

To be clear, I think Christensen's ideas are useful.

[1] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/06/23/the-disruption...

I found that article frustrating for its refusal or inability to directly evaluate the theory. Was his response along those lines?

Would you be able to point me to his response? I found Lepore's story fascinating.

Well, he did write a book about living a balanced life:

"How to measure your life". He wrote it with James Allworth - the cohost of Exponent. A podcast with Ben Thompson of Stratechery fame.

I know. And the reason it is so excellent is because he practices what he preaches in the book.

When I was in college I read “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. It totally changed my life. I emailed Dr. Christensen and he responded! I thought i was the king of the world.

Dr. Clayton Christensen’s books are some of the few ‘Business’ books that I ever recommend to friends or colleagues. I find that “The Innovator’s Dilemma” is applicable to almost all aspects of life.

Dr. Christensen will be greatly missed.

// I find that “The Innovator’s Dilemma” is applicable to almost all aspects of life.

How is it relevant to life, or business(besides being in a startup or protecting a business from it)?

spitballing some general aesops here:

Don't overfocus on what seems important today - look at the long run.

Improving at anything takes time and many iterations - if at first you don't succeed...

Getting comfortable and set in your ways can blind you to great new things.

Just because you fail doesn't men you did anything wrong.

Willingness to make changes even when things are going well, preparing for future disruptions in your career and life, realizing that people and relationships also change.

Some times, when I look at some celebrity scholars, I scratched my head wondering what did they do to deserve their reputation. But Dr.Christensen's work is truly great. He is a genuine scholar. Innovator's dilemma is groundbreaking research. I learned a lot from the book. Intel CEO Andy Grove is a kind of arrogant guy for a lack of good words. Andy used to tell a16z's Partner Ben Horowize that He has a full shelf of Management books gifted from management Professors. Andy threw them away only keep the first page of each book with author's signature and nice words. From this article, Dr.Christensen's work apparently gained his respect. that is not an easy feat. Considering Andy Grove himself also wrote a great business book, high output management. Just check Dr.Christense's wiki page, He was a Rhode scholar. No wonder. Clayton Christensen, Rest In Peace. You are a wonderful Professor. Thank you. Miss You

This is sad. I've read and continue to read more of the writings of the old classic 'Philosophers', the reason I find their writing is because I like to imagine, when they wrote their ideas and indeed philosophies, people of the time might have imagined them as new age and progressive.

They were in a way, but by no means intentionally, just laying out ideas that people should think about.

When it comes to people like Clayton Christensen, I really do regard him in the same class. I was fortunate to have been introduced to him by another idol of mine, and straight away, it was clear, this is a person who really uses all the imagination that is possible, questions what the norms are, and at the same time will reign everything in to practicality.

After that I went and read : 'How will you measure your ife?'

I was young enough at the time, in my 20's and thought I had the world figured out. This book quickly corrected that.

I have met only a handful of people who know who this modern philosopher is, but everyone will agree: He has made an impact.

It's a life well spent. And I hope to find more like him. R.I.P

"It's easier to hold your principles 100% of the time than 98% of the time"

He was such an intriguing thinker.

I love this 2013 blog post from Ben Thompson. It's titled "What Clayton Christensen Got Wrong", but I think it ironically does a good job of showing how Christensen's ideas are actually interesting enough to deeply study and debate, unlike many others in business.


Yeah, Ben is a big fan of Clayton Christensen. I doubt he would have written a post with that title if he didn't think Christensen got most things right.

I've long admired Clayton Christensen. My wife had the guts to ask his secretary to put me on his calendar. She did, and I got 15 minutes of his time. It was a surprise call, so when he was on the other end of the line, the best I could do was compliment him for the work he's done and his books (How will you measure your life, in particular).

He was so kind to take the time, and so genuine. That he would take the time to chat with a complete stranger for a few minutes has been one of the most important things I've learned from him, notwithstanding his books, talks, and theories.

This is incredibly tragic—Clayton had the courage to leverage data in a very confined setting. A recipe that rarely works in academia (I’m a b-school prof/associate dean). And, all the ingredients to his disruption thesis were already there in his study of the hard-drive industry. His capacity to take that ball and carry it from academia across to the managerial end-zone is a mere pipe-dream for most. For Clayton, it was second nature.

His impact across both scholars and managers alike is—to this day—a singularity.

Like many here I found "How Will You Measure Your Life" particularly helpful. The book was based on a letter to his students, which provides a nice summary and I keep handy to share with people: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B50RBERcUJSba2Fmd2Z0VzdtZm8...

Thanks for sharing. In addition to the summary, I really liked page 8 with comments from the students.

In particular, this one stood out: "“You could see a shift happening at HBS. Money used to be number one in the job search. When you make a ton of money, you want more of it. Ironic thing. You start to forget what the drivers of happiness are and what things are really important. A lot of people on campus see money differently now. They think, ‘What’s the minimum I need to have, and what else drives my life?’ instead of ‘What’s the place where I can get the maximum of both?’”

It takes courage to buck the trend of what's normal or expected in society, and we owe great thanks to those (like Clayton) who inspire and encourage us to be courageous in this regard.

I also really liked this: "if your attitude is that only smarter people have something to teach you, your learning opportunities will be very limited. But if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited.

that’s a fantastic document with lots of great advice

to me this was the best part:

> I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched. > I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.


this is, in my opinion, how we in a society can “have good things” and is so easy for us to forget in our day-to-day... it’s so easy to get selfish and unintentionally hurt/damage others...

I saw Dr. Christensen explain his theory at a talk given to me and ~100 HubSpot colleagues about 10 years ago. I don't remember any other speaker like I remember him. He was so kind and so clearly insightful. I know it sounds cheesy but he felt like an uncle you just wanted to sit by and listen to.

May he rest in peace.

I heard Clayton Christensen speak at an "honors dinner" my freshman year of university in 2000. I asked him what interesting things he did when he was a university student. He said he would get together with his friends once a week - and each would take 10-15 minutes to present the most interesting thing they had learned that week.

He also organized a university wide book club - including making books available at designated tables in the cafeteria, and hosting the author for a speaking event. "Guns Germs and Steel" was popular at the time, and he used that as an example of the type of book they would read.

Everyone knows about the Disruptive Innovation, but he also wrote "Disrupting Class" on how disruptive innovations would change universities/education - and put some out of business. On this vein he founded the Christensen Institute [1] a non-profit (in Redwood City, CA). I don't know a ton about it, but I've really enjoyed the research/ideas posted on their blog over the years!

Some here have posted about his faith. I've always thought it was bold that he had a four page PDF on his personal website [2] about his faith [3].

[1]: https://www.christenseninstitute.org/ [2]: http://claytonchristensen.com/ [3]: http://claytonchristensen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Why...

Clayton Christensen has been a great example to me in both business life and spiritual life. We studied his works in business school a lot but my favorite teaching that he ever gave was his "Decisions for which I've been grateful": http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/2...

> he suffered a stroke that left him with expressive aphasia. The storyteller still could think and reason but no longer had the ability to direct his mouth to express the words in his head.

My oldest son was born with expressive aphasia. Not being able to communicate what is in your head is so very frustrating. It must be so much more difficult for someone who previously could speak without difficulty.

I think Clayton Christensen is one of those rare professors from Management B-School whose principles and theories made so much sense and helped a lot in many businesses and in fact in life.

Things like Jobs to be done and How do you measure your life are wonderful things for anyone to pursue in life (in a general sense)

My Sister is a member of his congregation in Boston, on a day when she was having a difficult time managing the difficulty of being a young mother of 5 while in a chapel during worship services (this happened within the last year or two) in the process of things there was a spill of things of hers into the aisle way. She shot down to the ground to try and gather up all the things now cluttering the aisle way. Of all the members of the congregation who could have stepped over to lean down and help recover the diaspora it was “Brother Christensen” who came over and, despite being in a body ravaged by age and all he’d been through, using support for mere walking. There he was putting in the genuine walk, leaning over repeatedly to help gather things for my likely frazzled and overwhelmed sister.

My sister was vaguely aware that he’d achieved some notoriety. When I went on to speak of the world wide reverberations of his work, it seemed to pale for me to the history my sister had related to me just prior of what this kind, old ‘disabled’ man had done for my sister. An act which virtually anyone else in his position would be excused for presuming that someone else could handle this ‘little’ need.

Thanks Bro Christensen for producing the rebar, the greatly undervalued acts that keep our society actually functional and bearable.

His book How Will You Measure Your Life? is a really great read (all his books are great).

Here is a good summery of his theory of disruptive innovation: https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/4-keys-to-understanding-cla...

I just want to add my voice to the long list of people saying that a) he was brilliant, and his work (particularly How Will You Measure Your Life) is worth reading and b) he was just a kind, decent human being. I met him once and his warmth really left an impression.

My previous company, in true disruptive fashion, was setup as an autonomous entity outside of Fortune 100 mothership with the sole goal to crack a certain market.

3 years in, as we were passing through the trough of disillusionment, I picked up _The Innovator's Dilemma_. Boy did it predict everything we went through. It was like happening upon the script for your life. It was a transcendental experience. And I've recommended the book to anyone there who would listen to me! At one point I was considering buying copies of it and giving it to the executives but I refrained. One thing I took away from the whole experience is knowledge will only take you so far, execution is everything. When someone like Clay comes along and imparts profound wisdom, capitalize on it.

World lost a great mind.

Outside of his influence on the business world, I've met him a couple times and he was such a kind and genuine man. There are a lot of business school professors who reach far less heights, often in obscure areas, and they let it go straight to their heads.

I remember his lecture at Harvard when he talked about how cancer diagnosis/heart attack changed him while he was writing "How Will You Measure Your Life". Father of disruptive innovation, RIP.

Any chance you have a link for this? I'd love to watch/read that.

I was lucky enough to meet Clay Christensen once when he came to speak at a company I worked at.

First he delivered a brilliant lecture on how companies repeatedly found themselves put out of business by new technologies, even after having made only decisions that actually increased their profits (his famous theory of "disruption").

Then he went on to talk about how easy it was as a driven, career-focused person--like most of the folks in that room--to invest too much in your career and not enough in your family. He pointed out how you can see whether your efforts in the office are paying off after a year or two, sometimes even shorter--while you don't really know whether you raised your children well for 20 years or so. Since so many smart people are addicted to feedback loops of quick success, he argued, that put them in special danger. You could easily spend year after year making choices that increased your success in your field, only to discover--too late--that you hadn't been paying enough attention to things that mattered more.

He was one of the best speakers I've heard, picking precise words and moving smoothly from topic to topic, but every once in a while he would hold up his hand, bring his fingers together as if he were gripping a pen, and then twirl his hand in a circle as if he were asking for the check. After the fourth or fifth time, he stopped and apologized. He'd had a stroke recently, he explained, and occasionally he couldn't remember the words he was trying to say unless he pretended to write them in the air.

A brilliant, humble man, whose essential goodness was impossible to miss.

May he rest in peace.

Mormon here and I had no idea how influential he was to some of the greats in business.

His faith was extremely important to him. His essay on why he chose not to play basketball on Sunday, because it was the first compromise that would lead to every other compromise, has helped me keep my own moral compass pointed north.

Ain’t that the truth. Without getting into details the path to many stupid heartbreaking things I’ve done began with a small compromise. A Monson quote has become all too poignant to me of late: “ One writer said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. If we were to apply that maxim to our lives, we could say that we are the result of many small decisions. In effect, we are the product of our choices. We must develop the capacity to recall the past, to evaluate the present, and to look into the future in order to accomplish in our lives what the Lord would have us do.” Fortunately I’ve moved on and learned from my mistakes but it’s just eery how little things lead to the big ones.

Innovator's Dilemma and Competing Against Luck are the two best business books that any tech person should read.

I have my students and product design team read them.

I'm currently reading Competing Against Luck and it is a truly eye-opening book that highlights and puts the finger on a lot of the luck-based innovation work we've been doing over the years.

I was planning on taking MR Christensen's online class[1] this coming April, but I wonder if this will still be happening given Mr Christensen's passed away.

Would anyone have any good resource, online classes, books, videos, etc that they would recommend to learn more about Jobs to be Done and Disruptive Innovation Strategy?

[1] https://online.hbs.edu/Documents/Syllabus_Disruptive_Strateg...

I had a chance to see him at the Business of Software conference in 2011. Incredible mind. He will be missed.

Here's the video of his talk: https://vimeo.com/63125209

Hey - me too! Had he recently had a stroke prior to that conference? I don't remember the details but thought something about bright lights really bothered him.

Of note: I don't think he started his PHD until he was 50. I wish more people at this stage of their lives pursued his sort of deep, meaningful research combined with personal reflection and experience.

Yes, he had a stroke in the summer of 2010.

Somewhat off topic but it's interesting that Andy Grove was a big proponent of Christensen but Intel still got completely disrupted when the smartphone revolution kicked off. Though Grove was gone by the time of the iPhone he still should have seen it coming with the growing success of the Palm and Windows Mobile devices that preceded it.

Intel's main problem with mobile was that they saw x86 as a big potential incumbent advantage given their dominance on desktop and server. Which if they could have made competitive x86 mobile chips would probably have been an absolutely correct observation. But they couldn't even though they kept plugging away past the point of no return.

I saw Intel presentations during the mid-2000s or so where they were making a big deal about how x86 processors had fewer issues with Flash than other architectures did.

I think this is an important point. I was at a company that got disrupted out of existence, and The Innovator's Dilemma was required reading for all employees. So it's not that companies are necessarily unaware of the impending problem, it's just that they are often structurally unable to respond.

I remember reading How Will You Measure Your Life years ago right after college and enjoying it.

I also found the following section from the article especially thought-provoking:

> He second-guessed the wording of the label, but never the theory. Even after he changed his terminology to disruptive innovation, he saw flaws.

> “What we didn’t anticipate, and what in many ways was a fault of mine,” he told Quartz.com in 2016, “was that the term disruption has so many different connotations in the English language, that it allows people to justify whatever they want to do as, ‘Oh, this is disruptive,’ and they don’t ever read the book. The population of people where the fewest have read the book are venture capitalists. They are arrogant and smart and why do they need to read something?”

> He wished he’d created something less expressive. He began to discuss type 1 innovations and type 2 innovations, with a nod to Daniel Kahneman, because he believed those terms were vague enough to force people to read and understand his work more closely.

It makes me think about the way complex ideas get distorted and re-interpreted as they get repeated, like in a game of Telephone.

One of my litmus tests for whether I trust someone's judgement is whether they take the time to read and interpret the concept, and whether they openly admit when they have not.

There are a few words that come to mind in my day to day where this definitely applies: "disruption," "affordance" (UX design), and "agile." All of them point back to an originating body of research and writing and then tons of discussion as the idea gained popularity, so there's a concrete test of "did you read it and try to internalize it?"

I just commented on this too. Choose your word very carefully. They will be misinterpreted. Your job is to pick the right words so you minimize the misintetpretation.

Beyond the Innovator's Dilemma work, I found his "How Will You Measure Your Life" a beautiful combination of heart + strategy + long game perspective. RIP. https://hbr.org/2010/07/how-will-you-measure-your-life

I got to learn about disruption theory through Horace Dediu (http://www.asymco.com) who is probably one its best explainers and practitioners (the latter being why you should listen to Dediu in the first place - skin in the game).

I don't do a ton of business reading, but Christensen's stuff was top-notch and always on the short-list of recommendations I'd make to others.

How will you measure your life - https://youtu.be/tvos4nORf_Y

We all stood on clayton christensen’s shoulders. Today we lost a giant. RIP.

What a great guy and an amazing human being. RIP Professor :(.

I don't know if his family or loved ones will read this, but as much as I learned from his writing, I appreciated his attitude and manner even more.

I’m very very sad to hear this. This man was a gentle giant in the business world. May his family find peace after their loss.

This is a great article in so many different ways.

I like the enfaphasis on word choice:

> Disruptive innovation became a ubiquitous term. Cable channels produced “disruptor lists.” Some observers said the term’s use added sophistication to any discussion. Others complained it was overused. Various forms of it regularly pop up in discussions about sports, for example. To his chagrin, users often apply it as a synonym for anything new or transformative, not understanding Christensen’s actual theory. The ubiquity worried him.

> “If we call every business success a ‘disruption,’ then companies that rise to the top in very different ways will be seen as sources of insight into a common strategy for succeeding,” he once said. “This creates a danger:

> Managers may mix and match behaviors that are very likely inconsistent with one another and thus unlikely to yield the hoped-for result.”

THIS. I witness this so many times a week.

People do not understand what the terms really means and the difference that makes the difference.

This ends up being the source of misunderstanding when people says "X works" and "X does not work."

"Agile", "Artificial Intelligence" and "Cloud" in the workplace are others terms that are commonly misused.

In private life "intermittent fasting" and "meditation" come to mind.

If somebody is successful at something or they have something that work, I am always ask about the process or giving me a real example of what they are talking about.

Make the right distinctions is so critical to properly model their success.

> He second-guessed the wording of the label, but never the theory. Even after he changed his terminology to disruptive innovation, he saw flaws.

>“What we didn’t anticipate, and what in many ways was a fault of mine,” he told Quartz in 2016, “was that the term disruption has so many different connotations in the English language, that it allows people to justify whatever they want to do as, ‘Oh, this is disruptive,’ and they don’t ever read the book. The population of people where the fewest have read the book are venture capitalists. They are arrogant and smart and why do they need to read something?”

> He wished he’d created something less expressive.

This is so true. You want a phase that is catchy to grab attention of large audience but you also need one specific enough that is hard to misuse.

I will miss him. He was good folks.

Has he crossed the chasm?

Just a random thought. why doesn't Professor Christensen run for President? He will be a perfect, wonderful President. Nice, Decent, most of all, knowledgable. His expertise is just what this country badly needed. President Clayton Christensen. How nice. People from all over the world will love and respect him.

Skills and attribute applicable to business and academia don't automatically translate to politics.

And, he died

Applications are open for YC Summer 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact